“Sustainability is a mistake”

"Sustainability is a mistake", thinks Thomas Rau, thé sustainability architect of the Netherlands. We are very busy optimizing processes, but these are only small changes: the overbearing on the earth is continuing as usual. According to Rau, the entire system must fundamentally transform. It is precisely for this reason that Thomas Rau was invited for an inspiration lecture at the Montea team.

Instead of focusing on the scarcity, we look more closely at the available abundance. Instead of demolishing old buildings and completely disposing of the waste, we look better at what raw materials we can reuse in the new building. Ultimately, when we develop a new building, we prefer to choose in advance for raw materials that we can re-use after the first use. We do not have to write off the value of the elements: we should write down the value of the components.


Waste is material without identity, says Rau. If we identify the components in advance, the value of these elements is retained because they can be reused. We must therefore think ahead, instead of just thinking about. He pleads to view a building as a "material bank" and to list all the used parts in a "passport". A building is in this way a depot of useful material. The value is not written off to zero, the permanent value of the materials is taken into account.


The architecture of buildings must change, but the business plan just as well. When we want to travel, we book a seat in an airplane for a specific flight to a specific destination. For this we pay one price, it is not necessary to pay for the kerosene separately afterwards. We can apply the same in architecture, says Rau. 
We better buy a service – and not a property. Light instead of lighting. Washes instead of a washing machine. Mobility instead of cars. Space instead of a field. 


Rau is in favor of submitting applications for tenders not to people who are used to answering these questions, but to those who can give an appropriate answer. Of course, lighting is needed in a building. Normally the number of required luminaires is then counted. What is really needed, however, is a certain number of lux for a certain period of time. And also against a certain energy bill. In the end, Rau and Philips have been able to bundle this into a new, more energy-efficient model, "Light as a service", using fewer lamps and achieving a large saving on energy bills.

Power and responsibility are brought together in such a structure and then things go as they should, Rau explains.

The inspirational lecture by Thomas Rau fits in with our common ambition to optimally and sustainably prepare our buildings for the future. Montea sees it as its role to think ahead and to inspire partners to work with us in this. We want to change before we have to change.




Griet Cappelle
Chief Operating Officer
(*GCA Consult BVBA)
E-mail Griet